Customers want custom experiences, but personalization can quickly turn creepy if it crosses a line of comfort with its audience. There's just one problem: Where exactly is that line?
No brand knows for sure, and different customers will have different thresholds of tolerance for these experiences. The best way for an organization to avoid any blowback for these efforts is to establish a strategy for developing, testing and tweaking the methods it uses to offer custom content for individual users.
Here are some tips that companies can use to stay smart and safe while driving innovation.
Offer Data Security and Transparency
The best thing brands can do for their personalization strategy is to be transparent about what they're doing — and their reasons for doing it. Allow your customers to opt in to sharing their data with the business, rather than collecting it automatically. As they provide information, keep customers informed about why the data is being collected, how it will be used and how it will improve their shopping experience.
Inc. reported that customers are most willing to provide their own data when they know they're getting something in return. Remember to be honest when it comes to how that data will be managed, including sharing the information with third parties.
Use Social Listening to Make Quick Adjustments
As is the case with so many other parts of a marketing strategy, it's often hard to predict how customers will respond to attempts at personalization. Sometimes testing is the only way to get a concrete answer. Before you launch a personalized campaign, make sure you have a strategy in place to monitor customer sentiments across social channels.
Research from IBM indicated that Facebook is a great example of making on-the-fly changes based on customer sentiments. The company routinely introduces changes to its user experience and then monitors user responses to determine how to best adjust the strategy. In some cases, the new changes are modified — and in other instances, the upgrade is scrapped altogether.
Use social listening tools to monitor analytics and the reception of strategies that personalize content. If customers react poorly and become wary of your brand, it's typically an indication that you've pushed it too far.
Aim to Make Personalization Feel Natural, Not Invasive
The challenge many marketers face is that customers' love for personalized content quickly turns to animosity if they feel their privacy has been compromised. ConversionXL offered a simple guideline for striking the right balance in your personalization efforts: If customers realize that any marketing content they're seeing is unique to them, it's probably too much.
Personalization is sort of like going to a puppet show — the experience is best when you can't see the strings. While marketers should use data to personalize content, a subtle hand is required to ensure that customers engage with content without feeling that their privacy is at risk. To improve customer reception of this content, take care in your audience targeting and segmentation, as this will keep the messaging as relevant as possible.
Every business will find that the art of personalization is finding the perfect balance for your unique audience. Be methodical in testing (and tweaking) your marketing strategy until you find the proportions that work for your situation.